Tag Archives: PS

Christians Loved Canada’s Failed Video Game Console


It was October of 2005 in Canada, at the tail end of the original Xbox and Playstation 2’s retail lives. A month before the Xbox 360 was to be released—shipping with flashy titles like the World War II shooter Call of Duty 2—the only home video game console ever to be designed and distributed in Canada, the Game Wave, went to market.

Four years later, in 2009, it was gone.

I came across the Game Wave when I recently visited the home of Syd Bolton, who runs the PC Museum in Brantford, Ontario. Bolton might be best known for his collection of old computers, but he’s really all about video games. Inside his house, he has rooms upon rooms stacked with games. He’s a collector in the truest sense, as some of the things he’s stockpiled aren’t even really valuable: Every original Xbox game ever made, every Wii game ever made, and so on. They’re not classics, but he has them all, and that’s what matters.

Near the end of my visit, Bolton looked at me with a sly grin and said, “Hey, want to see something cool?” Wondering what that could possibly mean to a guy like Bolton, I said yes. What he pulled out was the Game Wave—a glorified silver DVD player that shipped with four remote controls, all snugly nestled inside a soft case emblazoned with the slogan, “Unity Through Play.” Bolton told me that he owns five of these things.

Game Wave was a family-friendly machine, and it was lauded by Christians for its focus on trivia games and competition in good fun. While not explicitly Christian, the Game Wave certainly courted that audience. One of the system’s few games was a Mario Party-esque title featuring characters from the popular Christian media franchise VeggieTales. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, ZAPiT Games, the Canadian makers of the Game Wave console, partnered with Big Idea (which owns VeggieTales) in 2008 to sponsor a tour called “The God Made You Special, Live! Tour.”

Bolton and I played a trivia game that was, in all honesty, kind of fun. It wasn’t anything special in terms of its focus—mostly questions about history and famous people, etc.—but it did feature some impressive CGI interstitials and historical videos to accompany the questions. Learning and playing!

It’s unclear why the Game Wave never made it, although one can probably speculate that it was simply outclassed by every other video game console on the market. It was essentially a DVD player, after all. There’s also the small detail that one of ZAPiT’s former executives, Toronto-area businessman Hari Venkatacharya, was arrested in 2013 and convicted in 2016 for arranging phony company loans in exchange for hefty fees.

All in all, it’s just one more piece of doomed Canadian tech for us to fawn and puzzle over years after it died.

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Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition Adds a Big Feature to 30 Retro Games

Now that the global insanity surrounding Pokémon Go has finally — and thankfully — subsided, Nintendo’s new NES Classic Edition is expected to unleash another wave of gaming nostalgia when it arrives in stores next month. And now, a new trailer for the miniaturized retro gaming console reveals a new feature that could change the way you play the 30 classic games that come pre-loaded on it: the ability to save your game whenever.

It’s pretty simple: Instead of having to find a save point in the game to secure the progress you’ve made, all you have to do is press the NES Classic Edition’s Reset button and you’ll be taken to the console’s Home screen where you’ll be able to save what’s called a “Suspend Point.” When you’re ready to play again, you’ll be able to pick up exactly where to you left off. Crazy, right? Basically, the feature will make playing games like PAC-MAN, Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, and others slightly less maddening.

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Here’s how Nintendo explains the “Suspend Points” function on the NES Classic Edition website:

“Pick up right where you left off with four Suspend Point slots for each game. Just press the Reset button while playing to return to the HOME menu and save your progress to a slot. Have a perfect run going? You can lock your save file and resume at a later time so there’s no danger of losing your progress.”

The console also comes with screen settings like a CRT filter that adds those retro scan lines to your TV screen, a 4:3 mode that horizontally stretches games to better fit your screen, and of course, a “pixel perfect” mode that lets you play the games exactly as they were designed. Likewise, busting out your old hairstyle and denim jacket from 20-something years ago is totally optional. The system comes out on November 11th and will be priced at around $60.

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Ratchet & Clank’: Video game movie

At long last, it seems Hollywood has pushed the reset button on its approach to video game adaptations.

From the reviled 1993 live-action rendition of “Super Mario Bros.” to last year’s loathed arcade-inspired “Pixels,” big-screen interpretations of games have almost always failed to score with critics and audiences. With four films based on popular interactive series set for release in 2016, could this finally be the year video game movies win over filmgoers?

After decades of commercial and critical pitfalls when attempting to turn games into movies, Hollywood is trying out a few bold new strategies in an effort to tap the interactive medium for the latest hit movie franchise, including hiring A-list talent and collaborating more closely with game makers to rework their immersive creations for movie theaters

“Ratchet & Clank”

The first to launch is an animated film now in theaters that’s based on Insomniac Games’ zany platforming series for Sony’s PlayStation systems, starring wise-cracking alien tinkerer Ratchet and his witty robot sidekick Clank. The game creators didn’t simply foist their 14-year-old franchise onto filmmakers. They insisted on joining forces.

“Ratchet & Clank” features several of the interactive series’ original voice actors with a story by former Insomniac Games senior writer T.J. Fixman. The game studio also outsourced a few of their own artists to work with the film’s animators to guarantee their intergalactic romp looked and stayed true to what made the game franchise a victory.

“It’s crucial for anyone who works with the worlds and characters that we created to fully understand them,” said Ted Price, CEO of Insomniac Games. “We had lots of open conversations with everyone working on the project. As game creators, we always want to tell more stories. This was just another way to do that for an audience that’s hungry for it.”

Over the past 20 years, game publishers have typically handed over movie rights to Hollywood with little to no creative control. While the results have sometimes hit the mark (“Tomb Raider,” ”Resident Evil”), they’re usually unsuccessful undertakings that veer way off course from the originals (“Doom,” ”Double Dragon.”)

Shawn Layden, president of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, said he’s been working with Rainmaker Entertainment and Blockade Entertainment to faithfully adapt “Ratchet & Clank” and silly stealth series “Sly Cooper” into animated films, as well with his colleagues at Sony Pictures to craft live-action versions of treasure-hunting adventure “Uncharted” and post-apocalyptic saga “The Last of Us.”

“I’m old enough to remember a time when people thought it was crazy to make movies out of comic books,” said Layden. “That’s certainly changed over the last decade. The really great games now have narratives featuring all sorts of age-old storytelling tropes. It’s become another great fountain of content that can be applied across other media.

 

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Rare Nintendo ‘PlayStation’ prototype exists, and can still play games

In what is likely one the most obscure and fascinating stories in video game history, Sony back in 1988 signed off on a deal whereby it would provide Nintendo with CD-ROM drives for the SNES. The thinking at the time was that the SNES, in addition to being able to play standard cartridges, would also be able to run disc-based games via Sony’s CD-ROM technology.

Ultimately, a contract dispute over money and various licensing issues killed the partnership, but not before 200 prototype units of the hybrid device, dubbed the “PlayStation” or “Super Disc”, were manufactured. This past July, a Reddit user posted a rare photo of the device after discovering it in his dad’s possession. Naturally, many commenters were quick to call it a fake.

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